Francis Dhomont performs Les moirures du temps (The shimmering ripples of time) (Feb. 1999, rev. 2001) and Phonurgie from Cycle du son (1998) at Other Minds 11 at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2004. To purchase studio recordings of these pieces visit www.electrocd.com.
French composer Francis Dhomont is one of the original proponents of electroacoustic music along with Pierre Schaeffer, founder of musique concrète. With no performer on stage and surrounded by a 12-pieceloudspeaker orchestra, Dhomont invites the listener to focus on the morphological interplay and ambiguities between sound and the images it may create. Based on found sounds and using a highly spatial technique, the music literally dances around the room, creating an experience that is visceral as well as auditory.
Les Moirures du temps (The shimmering ripples of time) (1999, rev. 2001)
In the same way that the eye perceives the changing play of light on the various shapes and textures, the ear picks out the sparkles and shimmers that the minute variations of related sounds can produce. Uneven flattening of the grain, dull and bright areas, wavy parts, changing, gleaming. Reflections. These terms, borrowed from our visual perception, find their equivalents in sound: changes of a spatial nature become alterations of time. Much of the processing of the material in Les Moirures was realized in Paris with the INA-GRMs SYSTER real-time system. Certain sound types and features particularly meaningful are privileged, such as the harmonic timbre, percussion/resonance, accumulation, movement (trajectories, swirling) and contrasts of dynamics: the very things that give sound a texture and that make it shimmer.
Phonurgie (1998) is the fourth part of my Cycle du son (Sound Cycle), a celebration of musique concrète, an art that has persevered through a series of incessant mutations and metamorphoses. The four works - Objets retrovés, AvatArsSon, Novars, and Phonurgie, constantly bounce off each other, call out to each other, reply, complement and extend by way of echoes, allusions, commentaries, diversions. With total artistic freedom, these pieces evoke a historical journey and try to bring out the connection between Shaeffers moderate object of observation and the wildest metamorphologies of the Art of Sound, our contemporary, Ars Nova. Undeniably, musique concrète has created an unprecedented musical upheaval. Fifty years after the first experimentations and on the brink of a new century, Phonurgie (invented word meaning fabrication, shaping, creation of sound) offers a vision of the current state of this new art, which has becomc an independent art of sound. Although the technological tools have changed and the colour of the sound has evolved, the morphological thoughts and constructions have remained true to the ideals of the first concerts de bruits (noise concerts).
All Other Minds programs available, with additional print and photo materials, at http://www.radiOM.org.
December 17, 2004
If ever it were possible to assign the word "Masterpiece" to a work of electronic music, these two works by Dhomont surely qualify. Every electronic composer needs to hear these pieces. Even though they have been reduced to two channels, the effect is still mesmerizing.